Friday, November 15, 2013

Rob Ford's Campaign for Mayor

Rob Ford's supporters, often referred to as Ford Nation, were big donors when it came to Mr. Ford's 2010 campaign to become the Mayor of Toronto.  

For my readers that are either not from Ontario or are from Ontario but pay little attention to municipal politics, let's open by looking at a bit of background about municipal elections in Ontario before we get into detail about some of Mr. Ford's larger donors.  From the City of Toronto website, here are the spending and donation rules that must be followed by all candidates for municipal elections, keeping in mind that all contributions must be from individuals living in Ontario:

 "Once a candidate has filed their nomination papers with the City, they are able to start fundraising and spending money on their election campaign. Contribution limits for City Councillor and School Board candidates are a maximum of $750 per contributor; Mayoralty candidates can accept a maximum of $2,500 per contributor. Corporations or trade unions are prohibited from contributing to candidates seeking office to Toronto City Council; they may still contribute to School Board Trustee candidates. If a contributor wishes to contribute to multiple candidates, they cannot contribute more than $5,000 to all candidates within a single Council or School Board jurisdiction. (my bold)

There are limits on the amounts a candidate can spend on expenses during the campaign period. These limits are based on the number of electors entitled to vote for the office. The City Clerk informs candidates about their spending limits."

Contribution rules are set by the Municipal Elections Act of 1996 and here are the key sections of the Act:

"Campaign contributions are monies, goods or services given to a candidate for his or her election campaign.

Contributions include:

    monetary contribution*
    value of goods and services
    the full admission price for a fund-raising function
   the difference between the amount paid and the market value of a good or service sold at a fund-raising function
    the difference between the amount paid and the market value of a good or service purchased for the campaign
    any unpaid but guaranteed balance of a campaign loan
*Cash contributions can only be up to $25.  Any contributions over $25 must be made by cheque, money order or credit card.

What are not contributions

The following are not contributions:

    voluntary unpaid labour
 services provided voluntarily by employees provided they do not receive any additional compensation from their employer
    $10 or less donated at a fund-raising function
    free political advertising provided it is done in accordance with the provisions, regulations and guidelines of theBroadcasting Act (Canada) and is available to all candidates
    the amount of a campaign loan obtained by the candidate or his or her spouse" (my bold)
Under Section 70, contributions can only be made during the campaign period; any contributions accepted outside the campaign period must be returned to the contributor.  If contributions are received outside the campaign period but the envelope that they are received in is postmarked prior to the end of the campaign, they may be deposited to the candidate's account.

The punishment for not heeding the Act?  An individual, including the candidate, who contravenes any provisions of the Act is liable to a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to six years of imprisonment.  A corporation or trade union that contravenes any provisions of the Act is liable to a fine of up to $50,000.

Now that we have had a brief backgrounder on municipal election laws in Ontario, let's look at the 2010 Ford campaign finances in particular:

Spending Limit - $1,305,066.65
Total Expenses - $1,918,280.18
Total Contributions - $1,942,358.38

At first, Rob Ford's campaign actually ran a massive deficit of over $$639,000 as shown on this Financial Statement:

However, a massive fundraiser brought things into balance as shown here and the Ford campaign ended up with a surplus of $27,307.99:

This was the fundraiser that pushed Rob Ford's campaign into the black:

A total of 245 tickets were sold at $2,500 each, bringing in $612,500 along with 49 peasants who paid only $1000 and another 98 cheapskates who paid $250.00 to attend the Harmony Dinner.  As well, over $104,000 in donations was collected at the door.

Now, let's look at some specific donation statistics:

In total, 388 donors gave the maximum $2500, raising a total of $970,000.  The Ford campaign spent a total of $89,693.95 on commissions for fundraising including $47,781.45 for telephone canvassing and $43,912,50 for workers who sold tickets or who raised funds at fundraising events.  What is interesting is to find that some families gave what would be considered extreme amounts to the Ford campaign.  

The major family donors include the following:

Busoli family of Richmond Hill - $10,000
Cortellucci family of Woodbridge - $7,500
Costa family of Woodbridge - $7,500
Di Rocco family of Concord - $10,000
Pal family of Toronto - $10,000
Rabito family of Markham - $7,500

One of the more interesting donors was Ian Delaney, the Chairman and CEO of Sherritt International, a major energy and mining conglomerate who supplied the campaign with the company's address of 1133 Yonge Street, Toronto.

Apparently, some families were VERY serious about their membership in the Ford Nation!  I hope that they at least got a limited edition Rob Ford bobble head for their loyalty.  What surprised me was that many of the largest donors were not even from Toronto; while they were from places like Brampton that are part of the Greater Toronto sprawl, Rob Ford would not be their mayor.  

Remember the rules about no campaign contributions from corporations and unions and the no-cash contribution rules?  A post-campaign audit completed by Froese Forensic Partners in early 2013 found that eleven cheques totalling $6,000 were accepted from corporations during the campaign.  As well, contributions totalling $13,249.25 were forfeited to the City of Toronto because the contributor of the cash amount of over $25 could not be identified or was not an Ontario resident.  Interestingly, the campaign converted some of the cash donations to bank money orders totalling $4,400. However, despite those and other contraventions of the Municipal Elections Act including overspending his limit by over $40,000, the City of Toronto's Election Compliance Audit Committee declined to prosecute.  Teflon Rob skated free once again.

I always find two things about election campaigns interesting; how much energy candidates are willing to expend to gain power and how much money people are willing to spend on campaigns to gain access to that political power.  Apparently, for many of the major Ford Nation donors, things probably didn't turn out quite the way that they had hoped.

1 comment:

  1. And a quick web search of some of those Italian names, along with other Ford donor names such as Commisso, produces search results that tell the fascinating story of how Canada has become a haven for members of the 'Ndrangheta crime organization.